Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers won his second MVP award Saturday night, and J.J. Watt swept away the voters the way he sweeps quarterbacks off their feet to take top defensive honors.
Rodgers, also the 2011 Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player award winner, took this one in somewhat surprisingly easy fashion over Watt. The Packers quarterback received 31 votes for the 2014 award from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league. Houston's Watt, seeking to become the first defensive player to win MVP since 1986, got 13 votes.
Rodgers threw for 38 touchdowns and a league-low five interceptions; he has thrown 512 passes at home without a pick. He led the Packers to two victories at season's end despite playing with a severe calf injury.
"I feel so fortunate to live out my dreams, year after year," Rodgers said Saturday night. "
"It can't help but sink in when you play for the Packers. When you live in Green Bay you know about the Lombardi years, Bart Starr and all the guys who made those teams special. You like to be part of something special yourself."
Watt, the ultra-energetic and versatile Texans end, is the first unanimous choice for an AP award since Tom Brady won Most Valuable Player in 2007, and the first for top defensive player under the current voting setup.
"I'm always trying to raise the bar," he said. "The moment you get complacent is the moment you begin your decline. When you start to feel like you've made it, when you feel like you're doing pretty good, that's when you start to fall back."
NFL rushing leader DeMarco Murray of Dallas won Offensive Player, while the Arizona Cardinals swept coaching honors. Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski took the Comeback Player award, but was not on hand because, well, New England has a rather important date with Seattle on Sunday in the Super Bowl.
Murray, who ran away with the rushing title with 1,845 yards — nearly 500 more than any other player — also topped the NFL with 2,261 yards from scrimmage. He scored 13 touchdowns in helping the Cowboys win the NFC East.
That overwhelming performance earned him 26 votes as Murray easily outdistanced Rodgers (15 votes).
"I want to say thank you to the Jones family for taking a chance on me four years ago out of Oklahoma," Murray said. "It's been a privilege to play there. Hopefully we can continue that."
Murray's contract is up.
"I don't think it's any surprise or any secret where I want to play next year," he said.
Arians took his second Coach of the Year award in three seasons after leading his injury-ravaged Cardinals to an 11-5 record and a wild-card playoff berth. He was the top coach in 2012 as an interim, stepping in for the ill Chuck Pagano and leading the Colts to the postseason.